Corus has unveiled a new range of British-designed and manufactured locomotives - the first of their type for more than 15 years. The steel giant has already commissioned the building of four new locomotives for its Port Talbot site.
These 100-tonne, 1,000 horse power (hp), shunting locomotives will be used to transport steel and steel products. The first of these locomotives will be delivered at the end of 2007.
The vehicles will be manufactured at Corus' Transport and Fabrication Workshops at Scunthorpe by the engineering division, Corus Northern Engineering Services (CNES).
CNES has a wealth of experience across many diverse processes, employing a multi-disciplined workforce of over 1,200 across four facilities - Teesside, Rotherham, Workington and Scunthorpe.
Ian Kirkup, sales and marketing manager at CNES, comments: "The new locomotives are modular in design and so customers can choose from a range of engine, transmission and safety options.
"Corus has been repairing and rebuilding locomotives since the early days of steam and is now the largest private operator of industrial railways in the UK.
"In fact, this venture means Corus is now the only operator in Europe to design and build its own locomotives, and to achieve this we have drawn on our extensive practical experience to design and develop the new range, which we believe ideally suits customers' requirements."
The locomotives are suitable for most industrial and heavy haul applications and pan-European orders are expected to come from a diverse range of industries, including mining and quarrying, petrochemicals, paper mills and medium-distance mainline transportation.
The locomotives are available in two, three, four or six-axle configurations. The design currently caters for axle loads of up to 25 tonnes to suit track gauges from 610mm to 1,676mm.
The frame and superstructure can be manufactured to suit a variety of loading gauges, with a choice of either single and twin cab models.
Customers can choose from a range of heavy-duty diesel engines up to 3000hp, with either electric or hydraulic transmissions. Diesel-hydraulic models are based on a range of purpose-built axle drive gearboxes.
All models have a choice of the latest self-steering coil sprung, taper roller bearing axle boxes or a more traditional cast steel axle box with sliding axle guides.
Mr Kirkup added: "We're offering customers a bespoke solution that minimises whole-life costs of the vehicle and reduced maintenance costs.
"The locomotives have many safety features, including a low profile, low height canopy, offering the driver improved all-round visibility.
"Reduced noise and exhaust emissions from the latest engine and transmission systems is another differentiator, and there's an option to equip the vehicle with remote radio control.
"A central microprocessor and `drive-by-wire' technology manages the traction control and prevents wheel slip and slide."
The locomotives meet all current and pending health and safety legislation, operational and environmental standards.
All major components on CNES locomotives carry a two-year warranty and the complete vehicle is designed for a service life of more than 30 years. The modular design of the vehicles also ensures components are readily replaceable and interchangeable to facilitate the repair and maintenance of the fleet.
"This will be particularly beneficial for customers who choose to operate several Corus locomotives, but in different configurations from across the range.
The locomotives were designed by UK-based design consultancy Railcraft Associates based in Doncaster, drawing heavily on Corus' extensive expertise as an operator of industrial railways. Corus says Railcraft has an excellent pedigree in industrial locomotive design and development.
CNES offers a wide range of asset management services and support to all types of companies with industrial processes, including those operating internal railways, and those operating mainline freight railways.
It has an extensive railway workshop, with 112-tonne lifting capability, to maintain the Scunthorpe fleet of 32 locomotives and 400 items of rolling stock that work on the site's 100 miles of track.
There is a machine shop for repairs and the manufacture of railway components, as well as structural steel workshops that produce engineered fabrications of up to 90 tonnes.
Corus' rail operations have benefited from many other innovations in recent years such as Intelligent Points, one-man operation with remote control and GPS - global positioning system.
Ian Kirkup can be contacted on email@example.com or (01642) 498041.